Politics 10:25 11/07/2019 Region

Iranian boats attempt to seize British tanker

Five armed Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boats unsuccessfully tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday, CNN reported, citing two US officials with direct knowledge of the incident.

The British Heritage tanker was sailing out of the Persian Gulf and was crossing into the Strait of Hormuz area when it was approached by the Iranian boats. The Iranians ordered the tanker to change course and stop in nearby Iranian territorial waters, according to the officials. A US aircraft was overhead and recorded video of the incident, though CNN has not seen the footage.

The UK's Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose had been escorting the tanker from the rear. It trained its deck guns on the Iranians and gave them a verbal warning to back away, which they did. Montrose is equipped on the deck with 30 mm guns specifically designed to drive off small boats. UK officials had previously confirmed that the Montrose was in the region performing a "maritime security role."

In a statement, the UK's Ministry of Defense said that "contrary to international law, three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz."

"HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away," the statement said. "We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region."

Iran's Revolutionary Guard denied that it tried to stop the British tanker, the semi-official Fars news agency reported Thursday.

The incident is yet another flashpoint in a series of maritime episodes involving Iran, coming less than a week after British Royal Marines stormed an Iranian ship that was suspected of carrying oil to Syria. Just last month, tensions between the US and Iran escalated into a military standoff after an American drone was shot down by Iran over the Straight of Hormuz.



Source Panorama.am
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